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Creating a camera and layer

From: After Effects CS6 New Features

Video: Creating a camera and layer

Now that After Effects has tracked this scene and come up with a lot of track points, your job is to find at least three of these points that define a plane that you would like to put a new layer upon. This building is obviously pretty simple, but even things like this building off to the side--I'll deselect the effect right now, so you can see it unencumbered-- has lots of faceted faces to it, so you can go ahead and apply something to that surface or this surface, et cetera. Anyway I'll select the effect again, and just to make it obvious, we'll work with this building for starters.

Creating a camera and layer

Now that After Effects has tracked this scene and come up with a lot of track points, your job is to find at least three of these points that define a plane that you would like to put a new layer upon. This building is obviously pretty simple, but even things like this building off to the side--I'll deselect the effect right now, so you can see it unencumbered-- has lots of faceted faces to it, so you can go ahead and apply something to that surface or this surface, et cetera. Anyway I'll select the effect again, and just to make it obvious, we'll work with this building for starters.

As I drag my cursor between points, you'll see that After Effects is automatically forming a faint white triangle of the three points I am in between. It also is driving a red bull's-eye target that's on the same plane as that triangle, and this can give you an early clue as to whether or not you have selected three good points. For example, if I go down here and select some points that include points on this building and points in this other building at front, I get a very skewed target that indicates I'm not on a flat plane of the face of this building.

So pay careful attention to how this target is oriented. It will tell you whether or not you have got some good points. Now, in addition to having After Effects automatically pick three points, you can manually pick points. You can click on a point, then Shift+ Click on additional points and say those define the surface that I'd like to use. You can also just lasso-drag around multiple points, if you want to. I have grabbed some points that are from a different building, so let me deselect those, things on the edge I'll get rid of as well.

I am back on the surface. So, quite often this auto triangle works quite well. If you want to use this auto-triangle method, click once to select that triangle and now you will see those three points are automatically highlighted. Now that you have these three points, your next goal is to place this target where you would like your new layer to be. You notice that as I move my cursor over the middle of that target, I get a four-headed arrow which indicates it's okay to move it. I can move it to the center of that triangle. I can move it to a different place along this plane if I want to.

But I am going to pick somewhere, say in the middle of this building to be about like that. Next, you can resize this target, which will give you an initial size if you decide to place a solid at this point in space. With your cursor over the target, hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows and now you get a two-way arrow instead of a four-way arrow, and you can scrub to change that target/s size. You might notice over in the Effects Control panel that there is a parameter called Target Size which is changing along with this. If I want to cover this whole wall, I want my target to basically stretch across the face of that building.

Once you've located this target, it's time to convert it into a layer. I'll right-click, and you will see I have options to create a dummy text layer and a camera, a solid and a camera, a null and a camera, a shadow catcher--I'll talk about that in a later movie--or to create text, solids, or nulls for each of these highlighted points. This is another reason you might want to Shift+Clicked on multiple points is to quickly create a whole bunch of nulls or a whole bunch of text objects for a lot of things in the scene all at once. Right now, I just want to put an image here.

Since I don't have a camera yet, when I choose to create text, solid, null, et cetera, it will also create a camera for me. So I'll choose to put a solid right there. Once I have this layer, the next thing I am going to do is check it to make sure it's oriented in a proper way. You see, After Effects doesn't have a really good idea of how to rotate this layer. So I'll select this new Tracker Solid, press W to change to the infamous Rotate tool and rotate this layer a little bit and check my parallax-- this building is particularly handy since I have some nice straight lines; I am going to press Command+Plus to zoom in-- to make sure that this solid is lining up with features of that building well.

So far, that looks pretty good. I am going to press V to change back to the normal Selection tool and drag a little bit in this X- dimension to center it on that face. Now to check my work, I will drag my Current Time Indicator through the Timeline and see how well that solid holds its position. And the answer is, not too bad. Command+Minus to go back down to normal size. At this point, this is not a 2D layer; this is a 3D layer, with a camera--I'll press U to reveal its keyframes.

So it's basically reconstructing the 3D geometry of this scene, where the camera is, where the surface of that building should be.

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After Effects CS6 New Features

31 video lessons · 11858 viewers

Chris Meyer
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